This Map Shows The Worst States to Have to Own a Car

America could use more walkable cities. In the meantime...

Originally Published: 
Cars stuck in traffic.
Jung Getty

For most Americans, unfortunately, driving is a part of their daily lives. That means that car ownership is a must. Whether it be commuting to work or daycare or to the grocery store, cars are a must in the vast majority of the country that is certainly not replete with pedestrian-friendly streets and public transit.

So while many take to their cars every single day, the reality of driving and operating a piece of large machinery comes with plenty of headaches, including high costs for owning and maintaining a car, plus having to spend hours sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic, and the actual danger of operating heavy machinery in a day-to-day way. Driving through school zones and commuting through pedestrian-hostile streets are a factor of life in the United States. And as much as it might stink for people who would prefer to take a train to work or walk their kids to school, the reality is that cars are a necessity of life. Living in a city that’s easy to drive in is another question altogether. That’s why WalletHub ranked all 50 states based on how good (or bad) they are to drive in.

To determine the rankings, WalletHub judged each state based on four categories: cost of ownership & maintenance, traffic & infrastructure, safety, and access to vehicles & maintenance, with every state being given an overall score based on the categories. You can see the full rankings and the methodology for the rankings here.

Per WalletHub’s methodology, if you’re driving, you’re best off in the Midwest or South, which dominated the top of the list. Iowa grabbed the top spot thanks to the low cost of ownership and not a lot of traffic, barely beating out Oklahoma and Kansas which similarly ranked high in those two categories. North Carolina and Texas rounded out the top five, as both finished in the top 10 for access to vehicles & maintenance.

Five Best Driving States

  1. Iowa (62.04)
  2. Oklahoma (61.65)
  3. Kansas (61.51)
  4. North Carolina (61.27)
  5. Texas (60.57)

Hawaii finished dead last in the rankings, as it has the second-highest costs of ownership & maintenance and has a ton of traffic. Rhode Island grabbed the second-lowest spot on the list, having a bottom-five score in three of the four categories (but the seventh-best score for safety). Delaware and California tied for the third-lowest score, with the Golden State avoiding the lowest spot thanks to having the best access to vehicles & maintenance in the entire country. Maryland, which has the worst traffic & infrastructure in the United States, snagged the final spot.

Five Worst Driving States

  1. Hawaii (41.02)
  2. Rhode Island (47.41)
  3. Delaware (48.00)
  4. California (48.00)
  5. Maryland (48.54)

You can check out the entire list here to see where all 50 states landed in the rankings.

Source: WalletHub

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